For this year’s Chuseok, my umma and I tried our hand at making our own songpyun! I really wish I had a recipe to post up, but we honestly just winged the whole thing. My mom looked through some recipes online beforehand, to get the general idea of what to do, but other than that, we didn’t follow any recipe or measure any of the ingredients (dae-choong, dae-choong~). It’s also hard to give precise measurements because everything depends on how dry or wet your rice flour is, or how sweet or mild you prefer your ddeok. For a good recipe, I suggest you check out Maangchi’s instructional video.
… and then mixed them with some brown sugar and brown rice syrup. You could just use sesame seeds and brown sugar, but we also added some brown rice syrup, for no particular reason (I’m tellin’ ya, we totally winged this whole thing!).
My mom was too funny and actually went outside to pick some pine needles from the trees around the apartment. After thoroughly washing them, we laid them all over the gauze cloth and ddeoks in a steamer. Pine needles apparently add some flavor to the songpyeon, although my unrefined “palate” could hardly notice any difference. :P After around 20 minutes steaming, we dunked them in some ice cold water and a little sesame oil, drained them, and then arranged them on a plate.
I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but they look so purdy! We impressed ourselves. We were concerned that our songpyeon would be a complete flop because we didn’t use any precise measurements and we shaped them so crudely, but they came out beautiful!
Even the ugly ones came out looking better after spending time in the sauna. There’s nothing quite like a good steam to cover up all kinds of imperfections. I think the fact that our songpyeon came out as decently as they did is a testament to how forgiving the whole process can be.
They also tasted surprisingly good! My parents aren’t big on sugar, so we kept the fillings more on the bland side, but even still, they were delectable and the texture was nice and chewy. My favorite filling was definitely the sesame seed filling because they were sweeter (oh me and my sweet tooth…), while my parents preferred the mung bean-filled ones. My dad gave us top marks, and said they were better than store-bought ddeok. Haha. Obviously, he was just indulging us, but it was nice to have our efforts rewarded with such a compliment.
It’s funny, but now that I’ve made my own songpyeon, I feel more Korean than ever. Our humble ddeoks came in all kinds of irregular shapes and sizes, but I reckon they had more character and soul than any store-bought ones. Songpyeon-making is definitely time-consuming, but it’s also one of those great family-bonding opportunities. And plus, you just end up feeling so proud of yourself when they come out looking too darn adorable.
- Make the fillings a little sweeter.
- Add a little more salt and sugar to the actual rice-cake dough. We only added a very teensy amount of salt to the rice flour and no sugar, so in my opinion, it could’ve had a little more flavor.
- Improve my crescent moon-shaping skillz.
- Make more. :P